How to Tackle Low Staff Morale (10 Proven Methods)
People are the most important resource in any organisation. they are the engine that drives productivity so their sense of morale at work directly affects the company’s success. managers thus need to take deliberate steps to deal with low staff morale..
Morale is a state of mind which involves feelings and emotions. Staff morale involves the attitude and perception of the employee towards their job, work environment, team members, managers and the organisation on a whole. Today, the causes of low staff morale can include:
- job security issues;
- lack of recognition/appreciation;
- uncertain business conditions;
- workplace bullying/harassment;
- limited upward mobility;
- lack of fair compensation;
- lack of clarity in job expectations;
- poor/cruel leadership;
- micromanagement, and;
- extra working hours.
In such an environment, employees focus more on their career choices, a sense of personal well-being and financial future and the cost of this attitude to companies is staggering. Gallup estimated that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness, lack of teamwork, poor customer service and other low staff morale issues.
Managers must ensure employees are being effectively utilised through job enrichment in order to combat low staff morale . Here are ten ways to go about it:
Employees need to feel a genuine connection between themselves and management. That they share a common purpose and common goals. They need to know that management knows who they are, what’s going on with their job and that management is there to help them when needed.
The key is to spend time with them. You should regularly work right alongside with them if possible. Take your lunch or breaks with them. This shows them you do not consider them beneath you. It also gives you an opportunity to have more candid conversations for more accurate feedback.
One of the worst things you could do in a workplace with low staff morale is low is look the other way. It’s often tempting and easier to just sweep problems under the rug, or “shield” your staff from bad news you are receiving from above, but you are much better off being transparent. Employees will respect your honesty while “shielding” them leaves them feeling infantilised.
Employees want recognition and acknowledgment that their work has purpose and that it is appreciated. Never miss an opportunity to recognise when someone has done good work. Even a simple “thank you” every time an employee completes a task for you can go a long way.
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Make a conscious effort to recognise how the contributions of your employee have helped you get your job done or helped the company save money, so they know how valuable their work is. Awards and public recognition of work above and beyond are excellent ways to recognise the hard work of your staff. All employees want recognition from management and their peers .
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Train your managers
Managers need to be trained in things like emotional intelligence and communication because they have the biggest effect on engagement and morale: if they aren’t the direct cause of the low staff morale, it’s their responsibility to fix it. Therefore training them on how to use different leadership styles and how to go about giving feedback and recognition is one of the key steps to take.
Run a realistic company
Setting aggressive goals and pushing yourself and your team to the limit is inspiring, but reducing stress, maintaining work-life balance, and running a company with calm, healthy staff should be your real goal because that is what realistically produces sustainable growth for your company.
Unfortunately, nowadays long hours, excessive busyness, and sleep deprivation have become a badge of honor for many. However, sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor and it’s sad that there is a toxic “always on” culture that romanticises it at the cost of real people’s health.
Help them grow
To keep employees motivated, give them a sense of progress and show them that they have something to look forward to on the job. It doesn’t always have to be a job promotion, give them both career and personal growth by helping them take courses or attend conferences that will improve their skills. As long as there’s a sense of growth and advancement they will be motivated.
Show your employees that you are listening. Employees who feel they are being heard are more likely to be motivated at work. When they realise that their opinion counts to the company low staff morale is less likely to occur. Don’t forget to act on whatever feedback you receive . Even if you don’t actually implement every piece of feedback, thank your employees and get back to them about it.
Have team building activities
Weekly or monthly team building activities are a great way to lift your employees’ spirit. When morale is low, organise a team building activity like a team lunch or office games or theme days. These little things can go a long way in dealing with low staff morale. It’s amazing what a few slices of pizza can do for a lethargic team in the office.
Deal with the bad apples
Problem or under-performing employees can drain staff morale faster than anything. You must always take immediate action to deal with such issues before they become larger ones. Issues like racial or sexual harassment should be handled with strict intolerance.
Use progressive discipline to deal with under-performing employees . Check their progress with regular follow-up meetings. If there’s no significant consistent improvement, terminate for the good of the employee, yourself, the company and their colleagues.
Promoting good posture, private workplace stations free of distractions, clean and tidy desks and comfort by allowing employees to move regularly is a way to fight low staff morale. If the employee is not happy sitting at its work station undoubtedly the performance will be affected. Always make sure your office chairs are comfortable and standing desks are another great option.
The key to dealing with low staff morale is managers maintaining a steady and healthy connection to their staff. When an environment of value and acceptance is generated through consistent recognition and open communication, it’s a win-win situation for the company and its employees.
Rewards and Recognition Made Easy
4 Tips to Overcome Low Employee Morale
by Sunny Tsang . In Employee Engagement .
Winners know that defense is as important as offense. It’s true in sports, board games, battle, and certainly when tackling the management challenges that plague the modern workforce. Among the many problems that should be approached with a balanced attention to both offensive and defensive strategies is the challenge of low employee morale.
When most leaders think about raising employee morale, their first thought is offense. Employee awards ceremonies and team building events come to mind. Leaders are understandably eager to implement programs, processes, and initiatives that drive employee morale up, and this instinct makes sense. These steps are the creative element of supporting employee morale; they’re all about building something new that will transform company culture .
What many leaders don’t realize is the undercurrent of successful employee morale programs is their less-flashy, yet equally impactful defensive strategies. Defensive strategies are especially effective when you’re working to overcome already-low employee morale. They exercise their impact by eradicating the invisible structures, factors, and even people that work against high employee morale. In doing this, defense paves the way for offense to make its move.
As a counterpart to our recent article, 9 Ways to Boost Employee Morale , the current article shares key defensive tactics that are less about pushing morale to its heights and more about rescuing it from its lows. The strategies shared here are preventative and target common workplace culprits of low employee morale which, until properly addressed, work actively against any proactive strategy a leader puts in place.
By incorporating both proactive and preventative tactics in your approach to supporting employee morale, you can create the most successful kind of solution possible for your company and transform its culture.
Tips to Overcome Low Employee Morale
1. stop micromanaging.
Micromanagement is one of the most effective ways to suffocate employee morale. It robs people of the critical sense of ownership they need for work to be meaningful and engaging. Beyond that, micromanagement diminishes efficiency because employees never get the opportunity to sink into concentrated workflows. Instead, they must constantly check in with their supervisors and course-correct in response to micro-pieces of feedback.
Make no mistake, frequent feedback is a central tenet of effective management, but there’s a glaring difference between that and micromanagement.
Whereas micromanagement is founded on an absence of trust and involves a stream of ceaseless criticism, frequent feedback means calling out both strengths and areas for improvement with appropriate frequency. Additionally, frequent feedback is good for employee morale and micromanagement is decidedly not.
Weekly 1:1s are generally the right cadence for managers to check-in with direct reports. These meetings offer a fairly substantial period of time to exchange feedback but don’t take place so often that employees are never free to truly take the reigns over their jobs.
Couple weekly check-ins with an employee recognition program , and you’ll be able to shift the potentially benevolent intentions behind micromanagement into a practice much more conducive to employee morale.
2. Don’t Neglect Peer-to-Peer Relationships
It’s hard to go to work every day with people you feel no connection to. Humans are social creatures , and whether it’s a running club, church, or work, we have a tendency to find meaningful connections in any context that involves other people. When we don’t, the days feel especially lonely and productivity suffers.
In most cases where peer-to-peer connections are thin (if not nonexistent) it’s not because colleagues simply don’t like each other. More likely, the problem is that your work environment doesn’t facilitate meaningful interpersonal connections.
Managers looking to overcome low employee morale need to encourage employees to get to know one another through opportunities for outside-the-office connection, whether that’s happy hours or casual Slack channels. Additionally, encouraging peers to recognize one another for excellent work helps build trust between colleagues based on mutual expressions of gratitude. When peer-to-peer relationships are strong, not only will employee morale be more stable, productivity, engagement, and quality of work tend to improve, too.
3. Set Clear Goals (and Place Them Within Reach)
Work can feel like repetition, or it can feel like progress. If it’s the former, your team members are going to burn out, and they’re going to burn out fast. People die from monotony — maybe not literally, but employee morale certainly does.
On the flip-side, employees become highly motivated when they feel their work is driving progress forward. When employees feel that they’re contributing to a successful mission, they’re inspired to keep going — mostly because they have somewhere to go.
To help employees feel like they’re making meaningful progress , encourage managers to set challenging, yet attainable long-term goals. You know that tiny burst of joy you get when you check something off your to-do list? This is like that, times one hundred. Whether goals apply at an employee, team, or company-level, clearly communicate what they are and support employees in making plans to get there. Employees don’t necessarily need to hit every goal, but they should succeed at least 70% of the time. When they do, they’ll be left with a resounding sense of accomplishment that raises employee morale by contributing to a sense of progress.
4. Improve Work-Life Balance
Finally, perhaps the biggest enemy of employee morale is poor work-life balance . When employees don’t pay an appropriate amount of attention to their personal lives compared to professional, burnout ensues. Symptoms of burnout range from difficulty concentrating and headaches to sudden (unhealthy) changes in eating and sleeping habits. When employees experience burnout, morale all but disappears.
You can promote work-life balance (and prevent burnout) by supporting wellness initiatives , offering flexible work options that accommodate family or medical needs, and most importantly, checking in with employees to make sure they feel equipped to thrive both in and outside the office.
Be sure you have these defensive strategies firmly in place, then check out our article 9 Ways to Boost Employee Morale to take your team’s morale to new heights. Amazing offense in combination with solid defense is the secret you need to win this management challenge.
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6 easy steps to increase low employee morale
Employees with high morale tend to be happier, more engaged, and try their best to achieve objectives. But, how can managers spot signs when it comes to low employee morale? Noticing a decrease in collaboration, negative interactions, and low performance, can feel like just the beginning.
It’s important for managers to know how and when to intervene.
That’s why we’re looking into the causes of low employee morale, to learn strategies to flip a negative employee experience into a positive outcome.
In this article you will find:
- Causes of low employee morale
Effects of low employee morale
- 6 strategies to improve low employee morale
Lead game-changing one-on-ones
Align on goals, discuss action items, share feedback, and drive employee productivity and performance.
Common causes of low employee morale
Learning the root causes of low employee morale helps is a key first step. We put together a list of common causes of low employee morale:
Minimal professional development
A 2017 survey done by Gallup indicated that “inadequate or a lack of professional and career development” can be a main driver for employee disengagement.
This data helps us understand that employees value learning more skills to grow their career. Noticeably, managers who don’t prioritize the development of their team will experience low motivation and productivity.
When managers prioritize the growth of employees, they feel valued, supported, and motivated.
Tip : Hold space for regular career conversations with your employees and learn about their career goals. Ask them questions like:
- What motivates you at work?
- What is something you find challenging that you’d like to work on?
- What are some skills or expertise you’d like to develop?
Confusion and unclear expectations
A lack of team transparency can cause confusion. Often, employees may not understand what’s expected from them which can lead to feelings of unnecessary stress, low employee satisfaction, and burnout.
Having clear goals set intentionally from managers gives employees concrete objectives to work towards.
At Officevibe, we developed our own collaborative goal-setting framework for managers and employees. We did this because we want each team member to have a meaningful stake in their own development. Check it out he re!
Tip: Host regular 1-on-1s with employees. Set clear goals and follow up on their progress. Ask questions like:
- What will success look like if this goal is achieved?
- What are some milestones we can agree on as you work towards this goal?
- How will you communicate with me if we aren’t meeting objectives?
Difficulty adapting to change
Experiencing change at work can feel stressful. Whether it’s a shift to remote work, or in team structure. Either way, this is can cause negative effects when accompanied by a lack of communication.
When managers maintain transparency, it facilitates clear communication. Ultimately, teams need to know how changes will impact them. Let them know that you understand their concern and do your best to answer their questions.
Tip: Check in frequently with each of your employees. Try a simple tool like Officevibe’s employee engagement solution to keep track of how people are really feeling using weekly pulse surveys.
Response to the Covid-19 pandemic
Right now, your employees are doing their best during unprecedented times. Many people feel the imbalance between their work life and home life. When this isn’t addressed, it can cause employees to feel burnt out and disengaged .
Practicing compassion and empathy with your team will encourage a culture of flexibility and empathy.
Tip: Encourage employees to take personal days to rest and recharge. Lead by example by signing off at a reasonable time, taking time off, and prioritizing rest.
There are two common effects of low employee morale. Each one helps managers learn about how to create a positive culture for their team.
Decreased productivity and engagement
Employee morale tends to be low when people feel less motivated to help the company succeed. Without a team of engaged employees, it’s difficult for managers to build momentum towards objectives.
Research shows that employees experiencing low morale at work may also demonstrate a higher level of absenteeism. That means that one employee experience with low morale can affect others on the team.
Experiencing high turnover can inspire feelings of instability. When this occurs, it’s important for managers to inspire a solid foundation for their team. This will prevent other employees from following suit.
The trickle down effects of decreased productivity and employee turnover can be detrimental on your overall team morale and organization.
6 Strategies to improve employee morale
Luckily, there’s a lot managers can do to alleviate the causes of low employee morale. Here are six strategies to help you improve employee morale:
1. Practice transparency
Rather than sweeping areas of concern under the rug, tackle them head on. Teams respect managers for taking action and working together to find a solution. Be open about recurring areas of concern and lead with vulnerability to inspire the same.
Tip: Send out a poll or survey at the beginning of the meeting to explore potential issues affecting your team. Then, discuss the results together.
2. Practice recognition
A lack of employee recognition may be one of the culprits to poor morale. It’s in a managers best interest to acknowledge individual efforts, celebrate small wins and draw attention towards strong leadership skills.
Tip: If you notice employees collaborate well, or show exemplary leadership abilities, congratulate them in a public channel. Call out how their work has impacted the greater team goals. Check out Officevibe’s employee recognition guide for more ideas!
3. Prioritize wellness
Setting aggressive goals and pushing your team might feel motivating, but pushing too hard causes employees to feel inadequate, and disengaged.
We recommend a more balanced approach. Start by integrating mindfulness and employee wellbeing practices. Prioritizing wellness is a great reminder to your employees that you care about them, which will result in them feeling supported.
Tip: Create space during team meetings for a minute of mindfulness. You can also encourage employees to turn their work related notifications off when they end their day.
4. Take part in employee growth
Keep employees motivated, by actively prioritizing their development. This can be done during regular 1-on-1 meetings . Employees will feel supported when they have the opportunity to develop new skills and are challenged in their role.
Actively encourage employees to be accountable for their engagement. When managers do this, they’ll notice a boost in employee morale and engagement.
Tip: Get to know the goals of your team. Whether they’re after a promotion , or wanting to expand on their existing skills, take time to understand how they want to develop.
5. Collect feedback
A great way to increase morale is to collect feedback from the team and show them that you’re listening. Even if you can’t implement every piece of feedback right away, you’ll be able to tackle achievable short term issues that benefit teams over the long term.
Tip: Set up an anonymous employee engagement platform like Officevibe or have informal team meetings. The more insight you collect as a manager, the more targeted your efforts will be.
6. Nurture human connection
Managers, it’s time to get creative and have a little fun! Organize team building activities to promote the importance of workplace friendships. This helps improve the dynamics of your team, a crucial element to boosting employee morale.
Tip: Remote teams can schedule optional virtual coffee chats or a virtual team hangout. Make this a weekly habit and you’ll notice relationships start to flourish. At the end of the day, the people we work with make our experiences more enjoyable and collaborative. Consequently a job becomes something to look forward to.
Remember that the more you connect with your people, the more you can guide them towards success. Positive employee morale can greatly impact their relationship with managers and with their peers.
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3 Signs of Low Employee Morale and How to Meet the Challenge
Stop searching. Start hiring with Robert Half.
When employee morale is running high, it can seem like there’s nothing your team can’t accomplish. Your workers are super-productive, they have a positive outlook and their work quality is stellar. But when employee morale is low, work output and outcomes can suffer, and trying to motivate your team can feel like pushing boulders uphill.
Low morale in the workplace isn’t necessarily a byproduct of a lackluster or toxic office environment. Unexpected, dramatic change is often a factor when there's a downturn in employee morale. Take the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, which has been extremely disruptive for businesses and their workers. Many companies had to turn their workforces into all-remote teams with little notice — and without a clear timeline for when previous business practices might resume.
Workers may also be juggling personal demands, like caring for family members, which can make it even harder to stay engaged in, and upbeat about, work.
For managers, bolstering employees’ confidence and mood can be a daunting task, especially if you are managing a remote team . However, it’s critical to meet the challenge of low employee morale, because it can cause top talent to leave at any time.
Strategies to keep up morale
How do you know if employee morale is sliding? Here’s a quick look at three telltale signs to watch for in your team members — along with some simple strategies for counteracting these issues.
1. A persistent, negative attitude
Sometimes, it’s hard for employees to conceal a foul mood after they’ve had a bad day at work. And even normal levels of work-related stress can give rise to frustration and discouragement. These are typical reactions to temporary problems. But a persistent, negative attitude — especially from someone who has otherwise been a positive force in your workplace — is a big red flag signaling severely deflated morale. A lack of willingness to cooperate with teammates or commit to new assignments is another clear warning sign of trouble.
How to address it: The first step is to identify what the problem is, whether it's simple or complex. Set up a time to talk one-to-one with your staff member. If you’re working remotely, schedule a video call so that the discussion is face-to-face. Ask your employee if the problem weighing them down is work-related or personal. If it’s the first, you can then suggest strategies for mitigating the issue. If it’s the latter, encourage your employee to take the time necessary to address the problem. Then make arrangements to ensure their responsibilities are covered in the interim.
Robert Half can help you hire highly skilled remote or on-site talent .
2. Poor work performance and quality
Missed deadlines, a high number of mistakes, or a decline in service levels can all be side effects of low morale in the workplace. Early signals that work performance and quality may be at risk include employees’ waning enthusiasm for or interest in their assignments.
Boredom is often a factor in a lack of initiative that can lead to poor work outcomes and dent morale. Your employees may be eager for new challenges. Or, on the other side of the coin, they may be feeling overwhelmed. If they’re feeling distracted and unmotivated, they might be struggling to meet their usual work standards.
How to address it: Foster an environment in which employees know they are expected to take the initiative, solve problems and demonstrate leadership. This is a vision you need to communicate clearly to your staff, because it is not likely to happen without you setting an example and providing guidance.
Have regular one-to-one meetings with your team members to gauge how they feel about the type and amount of work they are being asked to manage. Do they feel burdened by their workload? Or do they feel their assignments aren’t making the best use of their skills? Once you know what your employees need to be successful, and which projects appeal to them most, you can make adjustments.
Employee recognition is another way to keep productivity and employee morale high. Offer your staff members timely praise and low-cost awards, and, if possible, give them bonuses for their achievements. It’s easy to forget to express appreciation to your employees when stress and workloads are running high. But such recognition can go a long way toward raising the needle on morale in the workplace.
3. An overactive rumor mill
Communication is essential for successful staff management — and for bolstering employee morale during times of change. If you do not take a proactive, thoughtful and strategic approach to sharing information with your staff, you risk letting the rumor mill run wild. Don’t think that misinformation won’t run rampant in a remote work environment. In fact, it could spread even faster. And, before you know it, employee morale has taken a hit.
How to address it: Be quick to share updates with your team members, and make sure all employees who need to be in the loop on key announcements hear from you firsthand. Also, be honest with your workers about any changes that may impact their roles or the company. Armed with timely and accurate information, employees will be less inclined to fill in the blanks with their imagination. To help keep communication flowing, institute an open-door policy. Let staff members know they can approach you at any time to ask questions or express their concerns.
It’s important for managers to monitor the level of morale in the workplace. Addressing problems promptly and effectively will help your workers maintain a positive outlook and remain as productive as possible. The attention you give to buoying employee morale can help you fortify relationships with your staff and improve retention, too.
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How Managers Can Cause Low Employee Morale
Are your employees happy? Do you feel like they're performing at a level equal to their skills and potential?
Or do you find getting good work from them is like pulling teeth? Do some of them have one foot out the door (or, maybe, already left)?
We're all responsible for our own thoughts and attitudes, and the same goes for your employees. Yet, too often in the workplace, the conditions we create as managers make our employees unhappy, unmotivated, and ultimately crush morale.
5 Ways You're Contributing to Low Employee Morale
As a leader, it's important to recognize how you impact those around you. No matter where you are in the org chart, from first-level manager to CEO, your efforts and attitude impact your team.
Gallup calls this the "Cascade Effect" as they found engagement at one level impacts the morale of those below them in an organization:
However, your attitude alone is not enough to make someone on your team engaged and performing at their highest level. To truly improve employee morale, you have to take action on the things that cause frustration and ruin a workplace.
Below are 5 common ways managers contribute to even the best employees being discouraged and disengaged:
- Not managing based on Task Relevant Maturity
- Having an Asshole on the team
- Giving your people only uninteresting work
- Ignoring what your team tries to tell you
- A lack of purpose
1) Not managing based on Task Relevant Maturity
Some managers are very hands off . They give their teams a wide berth and a lot of autonomy to do their jobs.
Other managers are very hands on . Some might even call them micro-managers when taken too far.
Both approaches are wrong.
Management is not one size fits all. Sometimes you need to be hands on. Other times, staying out of the way is the best thing you can do.
Enter: Task Relevant Maturity
Andy Grove, cofounder of Intel, coined the phrase Task Relevant Maturity in his management classic, High Output Management . Basically, it's taking the idea that you should be as hands on (or off) as needed, depending on the experience level of your employee for the specific task they currently have. This chart explains it best:
The problem managers run into is that they look at Task Relevant Maturity at the employee level instead of the task level.
When an employee is taking on a new task or responsibility, they want guidance and help. When they struggle at doing something and there's no help to be found, it's frustrating and discouraging.
Meanwhile, when they know what they're doing, and they're meeting or exceeding your expectations, the last thing they want is you telling them exactly how to do their work.
How to change:
Consider each person on your team and where the stand in Task Relevant Maturity for their core responsibilities. Adjust how hands on or off you are based on that.
Also, use your one on ones to ask where they want more help and guidance. They'll appreciate the support where they need it and the focus on outcomes over micromanagement where they're comfortable.
- Task Relevant Maturity: What leaders must know & how to apply it
2) Having an Asshole on the team
Whether at your current job or a past one, there's probably the name of at least one person that comes to mind when you think of an asshole in the work place. Think about how toxic they made the work environment. I can feel the dread all over remembering moments throughout my career.
Leadership expert and best-selling author Robert Sutton has dedicated his life to the cause of getting rid of work place assholes. In his book The No Asshole Rule , he highlights a series of facts that show the true cost of having one on your team:
- People suffer physical & mentally: "Employees with abusive supervisors quit their jobs at accelerated rates, and those still trapped in their jobs suffered from less work and life satisfaction and productivity, trouble concentrating at work, and mental and physical health problems."
- Negative experiences linger: "Negative interactions had a five-fold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions."
- It causes more turnover than you think: Research in the UK showed "25% of bullied victims and 20% of witnesses quit their jobs."
Worse yet, they tend to spread:
Have the courage to get rid of them
Too often companies are afraid to get rid of assholes. Many times, they're some of the best performers and you then find yourself compromising on values to keep them. That's a big mistake.
There's now research that shows how much you're better off parting with even the most talented asshole. In a working paper from Harvard Business School , Michael Housman and Dylan Minor were able to calculate the hidden cost of assholes:
"In comparing the two costs, even if a firm could replace an average worker with one who performs in the top 1%; it would still be better off by replacing a toxic worker with an average worker by more than two-to-one. "
This shouldn't be surprising. Given an asshole's toxic behavior negatively impacts the morale of everyone on the team, their productivity comes at the expense of others. When you add in the costs of replacing those that leave because of the asshole, costs quickly skyrocket before even considering all the lost time and energy from management trying to address the issue.
Build a case to get rid of the asshole on your team. Watch how happy the rest of your team is when they're gone.
Use that to build momentum toward continuing to keep assholes out of your organization. No one should dread working with their colleagues, so don't let an asshole kill your employee morale.
- Ask Lighthouse: Dealing with Toxic Employees the Right Way
3) Giving your people only uninteresting work
We all have work in our life and job that we do not enjoy doing. Often, these get done because somebody's gotta do it. The problem that can occur is when that's all people get to do.
When someone has nothing but boring, menial tasks, and feels unchallenged, they are likely to get bored and disengage. That's a waste of their potential and the resource you put into hiring and retaining talent.
A story: The selfish manager
In a friend's past job they worked with a small engineering team. The leader of the engineering team would divide up work for all of the engineers.
Unfortunately, the team leader was selfish and untrusting. Since they managed and had to be an individual contributor, they kept all the most interesting and challenging tasks for themselves; this kept them motivated in the work and ensured any tasks given to the other engineers didn't require a lot of effort to manage and mentor the engineers.
The byproduct of this was damaging on many fronts.
First, the engineers were all disengaged from their work as they never got to work on interesting tasks, instead feeling like all they got were "scraps." Meanwhile, when the leader left because of burnout from doing too much themselves, the team became much more engaged.
However, despite the increased motivation, they were set up to fail. They were involved in so little of their part of the product they then struggled to collectively fill his shoes and understand how to move the product forward.
If they had been more involved from the beginning, they could have prevented the leader's burnout as less would have been on their shoulders. They also likely would have gotten more done from a team of motivated people leveraging the multiplier mindset as described in this awesome video by Rent the Runway's CTO, Camille Fournier:
A better way: Do things together & help them grow
Rather than having anyone stuck doing only boring or menial tasks, look to do them together .
As it turns out, not only does this avoid disengaging anyone, but people will work longer and harder on tasks that are done together . Stanford researchers Priyanka Carr and Greg Walton found that when you simply told people you were working together on a task, the following happened:
"Participants in the psychologically together category worked 48% longer, solved more problems correctly, and had better recall for what they had seen. They also said that they felt less tired and depleted by the task. They also reported finding the puzzle more interesting when working together."
Next time there are to be done, do them together and watch how much better things go than putting it all on one person.
Grow your people, too.
One of the best, yet overlooked, ways to boost employee morale is to invest in their growth. Whether it's learning a new skill, or having a clear path to the promotion they want, even modest efforts by you as their manager can help significantly.
We wrote about this recently in reference to remote workers , and it holds true for your team members no matter where they're located. It applies to both old and young people on your team, and it's especially true for Millennials; according to Mary Meeker's Internet Trends , the top desire of Millennials at work is "training and development":
How to Change:
Take the time to learn what the growth and career goals are for people on your team (one on ones are a great time for that). Even giving them the slightest support, or even a small amount of their time to work on it can be a huge morale boost.
A few ways to do that can be: buying them a book or resource, introducing them to a mentor, or getting them involved in a project they're interested in.
If you need help with goals and growth conversations, these posts can help: How to talk with your team about their career goals & What to do if someone doesn't know what their goals are.
Boosting morale can be hard, but you don't have to do it alone. Lighthouse can help guide you to the right discussions to make the most of your 1 on 1s and growth discussions.
Sign up for a free trial of Lighthouse here, and start turning around morale issues today .
4) Ignoring what your team tries to tell you
One of the biggest risks as a manager is your team resenting you. It can happen for many reasons, and when it does, you're in trouble.
When they resent you, they'll start disengaging, be less responsive to you, may ignore your requests, and otherwise make things difficult for everyone.
One of the major causes of resentment is when you as a manager don't listen. Most people will trust their manager until they demonstrate a reason not to be trusted. Barring something particularly bad happening, it usually comes from either not demonstrating you're listening or failing to keep your promises to them.
The double-edged sword: the one on one
One on ones are the most powerful tool in your arsenal to keep your team happy and motivated. Done well, they're an outlet for a variety of problems, coaching, feedback, and career conversations. Done wrong, they can be merely status updates , wasted therapy sessions, talking in circles, and a moment of dread for everyone involved.
If you're talking about the right things in your one on ones , then the most important thing is to really listen. It's a key skill as a leader as Melanie Whelan described in a great interview in the New York Times.
Don't avoid tough issues. Don't be afraid to ask a variety questions. Give them more than 10 minutes and really dig into a problem so you fully understand it.
Want to organize your 1 on 1 information in one place? Download our free meeting template below.
Turn listening into action
And once you're listening, the key is to do something about it. Walk in their shoes for a second:
You finally work up the courage to bring up an issue to your manager. It's been driving you crazy for awhile, or maybe something happened that really upset you this week. Either way, it's finally out there and now you're optimistic things might get better with your manager's help. Then the meeting ends. And a week goes by. Then 2. Then a month. Nothing changes.
How would that make you feel? Are you going to bring up the next issue, or not bother?
When your team starts thinking that way you've lost. They will shut down and stop coming to you with problems. And that really is your job if you want to have an engaged team. The harsh truth is particularly visible in Gallup's research on engagement :
If you don't talk about the right things, really listen, and then take action on the discussion, it will all be for nothing. Your team won't trust you and keep coming to you. I don't think you want to bet on that sliver of green on the right chart above that doesn't even have room for the percentage that your team is engaged.
If you're not already having one on ones, then you need to start one on ones .
If you are, make sure you ask good questions in the meeting, and really listen. Then make sure you make progress on what you discuss. Even small wins can be tremendously powerful.
(If you need help with all of this, Lighthouse can help you stay organized, cover the right topics, and keep your promises.)
5) A lack of purpose
"My work doesn't matter." "Why do I even bother?" "No one cares."
If you have ever felt unappreciated or been stuck doing work that seems meaningless, you've probably said one of those statements to yourself. Right around that time, you probably found yourself either looking for another job or lowering the level of effort you put into your work.
Don't let your team feel that way.
Take the time to give feedback and let them know why their work matters and who notices. This isn't coddling, it's helping them feel valued.
A little praise goes a long way.
People want to feel appreciated and recognized for there work. Unfortunately, as we learned above about the asshole at work, "Negative interactions had a five-fold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions."
And it gets worse. In other research from Gallup , they found how much a lack of praise affected turnover:
"Employees who report that they're not adequately recognized at work are three times more likely to say they'll quit in the next year."
Or put more simply by the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics:
Mary Kay Ash knows a thing or two about praise. The car she's leaning on is a special pink Cadillac that top performers in her organization receive. Their approach to praise has helped Mary Kay Cosmetics grow to over $2.9 billion in revenue.
Give people purpose
The bigger your company becomes, the less clear it is how someone's work matters. It's easy to feel like a cog in the machine. As a manager, you have the power to change that.
As we move to a world where more and more workers are doing creative and non-repetitive work, we have to rethink motivation. Research shows money is not the best motivator to get the best work out of your people in creative roles.
Dan Pink shares this in his TED talk, and his central thesis that to motivate people today, you need to focus on 3 things: autonomy, mastery, and purpose :
" Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose : the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves."
When people feel like their work matters and understand how their contribution impacts a larger purpose, they're more motivated and engaged. It gives them the reason they need to do their best work.
Purpose + Praise = Winning Leadership.
Praise and purpose go hand in hand. You can give the best praise by tying it to a greater purpose:
"I loved your attention to detail on that report, Malena. It really shined when we presented it to the client. It was a critical part of closing them and they're one of our biggest customers." "Thanks for coming in so early to help hot fix that bug, Stas. It would have affected a lot of our customers and it was starting to crush our customer success team. Fixing it so quickly saved the success team a lot of time and really impressed some of our bigger customers who don't move that fast."
The best praise is specific . In both of the examples above, the praise recognizes exactly what you liked about what your team member did, and it shares exactly why what they did mattered in the big picture of your company.
If you give that kind of praise, there's a good chance they'll put in the same effort next time you need it.
Take a look at the work your team is currently doing. Have you explained to them why it matters? How will it impact customers? How will it help coworkers do their jobs better?
Take a few minutes to talk to them and find something you really like in their work and specifically praise them. If you're looking for more advice on giving awesome praise, this post can help.
Who is responsible for employee morale? It's up to you as a manager to make an impact on it
When you see people on your team under-performing or showing low morale, it's easy to look at them and place the blame on them for a bad attitude. Maybe they are a B or C player.
However, it's just as likely that they're not being managed well or that circumstances around them have created an environment that crushes morale.
If you're honest with yourself and take a hard look in the mirror, there's a good chance you'll find some things you may be doing (or failing to do) to contribute to the problem.
Try one of these five areas we've discussed today and you may be surprised how you can impact employee morale with your actions.
More resources on low morale in the workplace and other key leadership topics
If you'd like to learn more about improving morale and better motivating your team, take a look at these posts:
Tips on keeping your team motivated:
- How to Keep Your Team Engaged When You Have Low Morale at Work
- How the Elephant and the Rider can help motivate your team
- How to Give Constructive Feedback to Motivate & Improve Your Team
- Bad Management's 7 Deadly Sins and what to do instead
On keeping your team and yourself motivated in a crisis:
- Crisis Leadership: 18 Questions to Ask Your Team in a Crisis
- Leading Happy Teams: 5 Ways to Keep Your Team Happy in a Recession
- Workplace Stress: 8 Ways to Reduce Stress in the Workplace Today
And on starting regular 1 on 1 meetings:
- Why Your One on One Needs a Meeting Agenda (+ making them great)
- 30 One on One Meeting Tips for Effective One on Ones
- One on One Meetings: The Only Guide Managers Need [Free Template
- Our podcast episode on great 1 on 1s from a variety of seasoned managers:
Boosting morale can be hard, but you don't have to do it alone. Lighthouse can help guide you to the right discussions to make the most of your 1 on 1s and growth discussions.
Sign up for a free trial of Lighthouse here, and start turning around morale issues today.
Learn something today? Share it so your friends can, too:
4 Types of Managers Employees Love to Work With (and What Managers Can Learn from Them)
13 key andy grove quotes on leadership from high output management, 14 things you didn’t plan for when you started hiring remote employees, 3 important benefits of bite sized learning in management training (aka - microlearning), browse topics.
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- How To’s for Managers
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- Motivation & Morale
- Get Lighthouse, Inc
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How to Detect and Correct Low Employee Morale Before it Spreads
“One person with a poor work ethic can introduce a kind of social virus to an otherwise cohesive and well-functioning system.”
In other words, one negative teammate can pull down the entire team.
So what do you do when low employee morale strikes? Low morale can be overwhelming to deal with and hard to detect. That’s why we created this guide. Below we’ll walk through the signs that indicate low morale, explore some underlying causes of the issue, and suggest solutions to eliminate the problem before it spreads from just one person to an entire team—or your entire company.
Want to become a better professional in just 5 minutes?
Sign 1: Lack of attendance and engagement
Underlying cause of low morale: no “why” behind the work
Employees do the same things day after day. A project that once inspired someone because of its apparent significance to the company, and maybe even to the world, becomes a series of to-dos that just need to be scratched off before the weekend. Projects turn into rote tasks, and eventually, the reason behind the work fades, taking motivation with it. When this happens, employees don’t engage with work, and sometimes they don’t even show up , because…well, what’s the point?
Inspire them to rekindle the motivation.
It’s never too late to help employees remember why they do what they do, even if you suspect someone might have started the transition to “task-driven automaton.”
Here are some things you can do:
- You might think people with strong work friendships end up chit-chatting all day, but a Gallup poll suggests that people with good friends at work feel more engaged and motivated to perform their best.
- Good news: Planning team-building events doesn’t even have to be time-consuming or difficult. Companies like The Go Game will help you choose, plan, and execute the perfect event for your team.
- Find out each employee’s key goals for the week and then ask about the reason behind those goals, the “why” driving the “how.”
Ask employees to be honest; explain that you’re not administering a test—you just want to find out how to keep them happy. If the conversation leads to a dead end, and your employee really has a list of items “someone just has to do,” then try to figure out some side projects to reignite passion for the company mission. One remarkable project can wipe out the negative feelings associated with a whole list of brain drainers.
If you don’t already have a weekly meeting with each person on your team, then set them up. Find out each employee’s key goals for the week and then ask about the reason behind those goals, the “why” driving the “how.”
Sign 2: Emotional outbursts or frequent sick days
Underlying cause of low morale: stress
Stressed workers experience an overall reduced sense of wellbeing. This can result in anger, depression, and spikes in cortisol, which can result in high blood pressure and poor immune function. Naturally, unhappy, unwell workers take more sick days than happy workers. Studies have found that people with low wellbeing scores can cost a company up to $28,000 a year in sick-day expenses and lost productivity. Happy and engaged workers, on the other hand, cost only about $840 a year. Plus, additional research demonstrates that people with high-to-medium job strain visit doctors more frequently than less-stressed employees.
Give employees control over their schedules.
To counteract low employee morale resulting from stress, the American Psychological Association recommends giving employees more control over their time at work and even providing the opportunity to set flexible hours. Empowering team members the freedom to set their own hours represents a major morale opportunity. In our recent State of Company Culture Report , we found that “flexible work hours” was rated the third most important perk (87% of respondents said it is “important” or “very important” to them), yet only 46% of respondents said that this perk is available to them.
Sign 3: High turnover
Underlying cause of low morale: lack of reasons to stay
When employees quit, it’s usually because something that once kept them working is, well…no longer working . They’re not having fun, they’re not inspired, and they’re not developing valuable relationships with their coworkers because every day is a struggle.
Unfortunately, turnover, like negativity, can spread through a company like a virus . Once a few employees put in their notice, more employees will likely follow suit.
Focus on teamwork.
Implement some easy tools and strategies to build teamwork in your office, and your employees might just stick around longer. According to a Globoforce survey , workplace friendships retain employees. Most (62%) respondents who reported having 1-5 work friends would turn down an external job offer. Gallup also found that having a “best friend at work” is a leading indicator of engagement.
Sign 4: Dwindling productivity
Underlying cause of low morale: overly involved bosses
When bosses turn into taskmasters, employees often lose any motivation they once had to complete the task. It becomes an eye-roll worthy obligation instead of part of a fulfilling career. When bosses try too hard to make sure everyone does what they’re supposed to, a funny thing happens: people stop doing what they’re supposed to do and productivity drops. A report from the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan suggests that the most productive workers are those under the least supervision.
The same report mentioned above has some additional insights for counteracting the loss of morale caused by too much supervision. Here’s a sampling of findings that suggest the most productive teams:
- Place less direct emphasis upon production as the goal
- Encourage employee participation in the making of decisions
- Are more employee-centered
- Feel that they know where they stand with the company
So to restore morale, discuss new strategies with your company’s team of managers and supervisors. Think of ways to give some autonomy back to employees by involving them in key decisions, checking in less, and focusing on process over product.
Sign 5: Sluggish and apathetic employees
Underlying cause of low morale: employee burnout
The Office of Recreation & Park Resources, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign isolated three main aspects of burnout:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Reduced personal accomplishment
Employees with burnout might still love their jobs, but they’re so exhausted and overworked that morale plummets.
Address the burnout.
Our friends from Illinois also called out a few potential ways to reduce burnout. Here are some key takeaways on techniques you can use to battle burnout.
- Practice problem-focused coping centered around the time-management aspect of burnout. To implement this approach, discuss the burnout with employees and think of some ways to replace schedule chaos with control.
- Practice emotion-focused coping centered around dealing with the emotions the problem creates. The strategy aims to change the reaction to the problem, making it easier to manage. To implement this approach, ask employees how the burnout makes them feel and work from there.
- Practice relationship-focused coping centered around building relationships to reduce conflict and ease the underlying problem. To implement this approach, pair stressed employees with balanced mentors or buddies to offer support.
- Practice lifestyle-copying focused on improving employee wellbeing and energy levels, thus reducing burnout. To implement this approach, offer meditation classes, wellness coaching, flexible leisure hours, and other similar benefits.
Bonus: This episode of NPR’s Planet Money does a great job explaining the origins of the term burnout in psychology, and how one company has helped reduce it for their employees.
Sign 6: They don’t know what’s going on
Underlying cause of low morale: lack of communication
Sometimes bosses know they have everything under control, and they see no reason to trouble their employees with the details, but often, employees want to be troubled with the details. Employees want to feel like they are “in the know,” and eel they are part of the big company picture.
Create a culture of transparency.
Communicate more often and about more subjects. Most employees would rather tune out irrelevant information than constantly wonder what’s going on. In fact, a TINYpulse engagement survey revealed transparency as the number one factor in employee happiness.
Sign 7: They feel left out
Underlying cause of low morale: you’re not as inclusive as you think
One Deloitte study uncovered a reality gap in workplace inclusion and diversity: While most employers desire an “inclusive” culture, their true inclusive maturity levels remained low according to Deloitte’s model .
The experts at Deloitte also say that the global political climate has more employees thinking about inclusion and considering it a priority. Fairness, engagement, and social justice now cross the average employee’s mind more than ever before.
Use technology to find out, objectively, where you stand on inclusion and diversity.
Deloitte recommends using technology to give the inclusion and diversity culture in your office a deep dive. Tools, such as Diverst , allow companies to track efforts, create talent pool segments to heighten diversity, and provide invaluable empirical insights on workplace diversity. Taking an active approach to solving this data deficit will help companies better address diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Sign 8: They don’t have as many ideas as they used to
Underlying cause of low morale: lack of trust and comfort
When employees feel their ideas are not respected, they’ll stop sharing. A lack of respect in ideas can come in many forms, including criticism, inattention, lack of adoption, and ruthless competition during meetings.
Foster a trusting, open environment.
The American Management Association recommends adopting a company-wide philosophy that “there are no bad ideas, only undeveloped ones.” Talk to your managers so they can discuss a new “soft policy” with their teams. As more employees get used to responding to all ideas with openness instead of criticism, the policy will spread, inspiring respect and engagement throughout the company.
Sign 9: Managers take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Underlying cause of low morale: company management is a “strategy” instead of a “person”
After a few years of experience, many managers fall into a management “style” they feel works for them. This style can be helpful in many situations, but it can also cause problems when style becomes dogma. This happens when managers adhere so firmly to a set of established principles that they fail to pay attention to unique people and situations. When managers adopt a cookie-cutter approach, their people can feel neglected and misguided.
Learn the principles of task relevant maturity.
Task relevant maturity entered management vocabulary thanks to Andy Grove, a cofounder of Intel . When employees take a task relevant approach, they evaluate tasks and employees on a case-by-base basis, applying different principles in each scenario.
Here’s a summary of the task relevant management levels Grove outlines in his book, High Output Management .
- If an employee’s experience with a task is low, then managers should provide complete direction, including what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
- If an employee’s experience with a task is medium, then managers should offer only support so the employee can access help if needed.
- If an employee’s experience with a task is high, then managers should communicate objectives and then stay out of the way.
Grove cautions managers to consider the employee’s experience with the task at hand and not the employee’s overall experience level, as the two may be incongruent. For example, a third-year administrative assistant may be proficient in event planning while a tenth-year designer may not even know how to analyze a vendor contract.
Sign 10: You never hear from employees
Underlying cause of low morale: you’re not seeking their input
If you have no idea how your employees are feeling, then you could be missing the signs of low morale and the insights necessary to improve it. Plus, employees love being heard, so if you’re not even doing a simple survey, then employees might assume you don’t care about their opinions.
Develop a feedback mechanism.
Work with your Human Resource and Communications teams to develop a survey, a suggestion box, and maybe even a Q&A town hall format where employees can ask questions and state their opinions about important company happenings.
Sign 11: Everyone is working longer hours
Underlying cause of low morale: employees feel overworked
When employees put in extra hours, it’s not necessarily a sign of engagement. It could be a sign that you’re giving them too much work and they feel unable to handle it. Furthermore, if employees feel unable to handle their workloads and you don’t realize it, then that means they don’t feel comfortable, or secure enough, to express their concerns. To summarize, if too many people are working too many hours too often, then employee morale could be rapidly sinking.
Analyze workloads and take appropriate action.
Take a deeper look at workloads if employees constantly work long hours. Evaluate what everyone has on their plates according to task urgency and complexity. Can you rearrange due dates and allow more time for the most intricate processes? Plan some time to have candid conversations with employees who put in the most overtime to find out why they’re working so hard. It could have nothing to do with the actual work. For example, the employee might be distracted by noise in an open floor plan, only getting things done when everyone else leaves for the night.
Analyzing workloads might also reveal potential training opportunities. Training takes time away from work in the short term but ultimately helps employees work faster and better. Overtime might be a result of missing technical fluency in a time-saving software or application.
Ballooning workloads can be caused by a number of different factors, but they can be addressed only after an extensive deep dive pinpoints precisely what they are.
Sign 12: They won’t take a day off
Underlying cause of low morale: employees are not taking a break
Having your employees working hard throughout the year is great. Having them work without taking a day off every once in awhile is not great.
Giving your employees the opportunity to take time off and recharge the batteries is an important aspect of a healthy work-life balance. It is especially important during the holiday season when business tends to shrink a bit and your employees can have an opportunity to spend valuable time with their friends and families. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that time off during this season is hard to find.
Our friends at Reservations.com conducted a survey where they found that 27% of employees take zero days off of work during the holiday season. They also found that productivity tends to remain the same as nearly 33% of people surveyed recorded no apparent change in work output.
These statistics help to show that while businesses want to keep pushing ahead, it is important to remember to take care of everyone and enjoy some time out of the office.
Low morale can take time to spot and boost, so don’t get discouraged if your efforts don’t yield instant results. Persistence and constant monitoring will become your best friends in the mission to improve happiness in your office.
How do you prevent low morale at your workplace? Let us know in the comment section below.
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15 Effective Ways to Boost Employee Morale (Updated for 2023)
Meet Kimberly, an experienced HR professional and writer. With 6 years in the industry, Kimberly brings a deep understanding of HR challenges and opportunities to the table. Her writing covers a range of HR topics, from talent management to diversity and inclusion, and their practical experience as an HR professional provides a unique perspective. Kimberly stays current on industry trends and is passionate about using her skills to advance the HR profession.
Updated on February 13, 2023
The Impact of Positive Employee Morale
Causes of low employee morale in the workplace, 15 ways to boost employee morale, why morale for your remote workers is a must.
- The Bottom Line On Employee Morale
Your staff morale is the backbone of your business. As an organization’s leader, you can’t afford to not take it seriously: not only do numerous studies show that positive work cultures breed productivity (but more on that later), but it pays to keep your employees happy. After all, the happier they are, the harder they work, right?
Without further ado, here’s our quick guide to boosting employee morale.
With sites like Glassdoor being an important source of information for candidates looking to potentially join your businesses, as well as a popular destination for disgruntled current (or former) employees , nurturing your staff morale is a strategic move.
That’s because –
- Positive employee morale leads to an increase in productivity and efficiency in the workplace, and as studies have shown , produce higher quality work too.
- Staff morale can literally keep a company afloat: should your company hit hard times, you might have to rely on your staff to help it pull through. If there’s a problem with staff morale, then it’s unlikely anyone will work extra hard to keep the company afloat; if there’s high work morale, those same employees will likely do their utmost to help the company survive (and might even have some company-saving suggestions at that!).
- Solid company morale will lead you to attract and retain top talent, reducing staff turnover . When there’s a good and healthy work environment, employee morale is much higher, which creates positive energy and turns your employees into your greatest hiring asset: and they should even be a part of the hiring process themselves.
- Positive employee morale helps reduce your business costs . Think of this domino effect: high employee morale helps reduce workplace accidents which leads to fewer absences and helps lower workplace stress , which then leads to less paid time off .
Before we look at the ways to boost work morale, it’s helpful to understand where low employee morale comes from. After all, prevention is better than the cure.
Lack of Growth
It goes without saying that bad staff morale can stem from a lack of career opportunities and personal growth. When the company isn’t growing, or their job doesn’t give them new challenges, employees can grow bored and unmotivated.
Research has proven that employees need growth to stay engaged and motivated because, without growth, they will become disengaged and will eventually leave for a more challenging role. This is the opposite of staff morale.
Lack of Clarity and Communication
If employees don’t know what you expect of them or they aren’t aware of what’s going on in the company, they won’t be motivated to get the job done to the best of their ability. If you’re looking to boost morale, this isn’t the way to do it!
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Change can be hard to handle but it’s a necessary evil. Whether there was a merger or a new hire at the top level, team morale can take a hit when confidence is shaken, because if the company culture changes, so does staff morale.
More often than not, poor leadership causes low employee morale. Those in leadership positions must understand how their behavior affects the team. If they don’t, morale will gravely suffer and if nothing gets addressed, work morale will only plummet.
Issues With The Company Itself
Sometimes, your reputation precedes you and your company image, even long before the interview process . You need to make sure your company’s image draws a good set of potential employees instead of scaring them away.
With the above outlined, you understand the importance of employee morale and what causes both high and low company morale. You need to tackle it head-on and add its process to your company culture.
We’ve compiled 15 easy, quick and creative ways you can boost employee morale, today.
Boost Employee Morale in 1-Minute from Now: Connecteam
Change the way your employees interact with your business; Connecteam’s full-set of communication tools will reinvent your employees’ morale. Free 14-day trial, credit card required. No training required!
Listen: how this 200+ employee company boost employee morale with Connecteam
Improving staff communication can pay off big time. Start by setting clear and realistic goals for each employee. Schedule one-on-one meetings to track progress and to clear up any confusion. Be sure to communicate at every opportunity! Share positive company announcements, like a new product in development or a glowing customer review.
Additionally, you should check in with your employees on a frequent basis, ask them:
- How are you feeling about your job/manager/co-workers?
- Are you facing any challenges? How can I help?
- Are you happy at work? How can I help?
You have to provide open, regular communication about issues and achievements that are important to your employees. As far as boosting staff morale goes, this one is huge.
Use The Right Tools
As a manager, you’re already juggling a dozen tasks (and then some). But knowing that, we’re well into the technological era and there’s an app for that! Connecteam is a leading employee and business management app with a powerful, flexible, mobile-first communication and engagement platform for your team.
Here’s ho 36,000+ organizations just like yours are utilizing Connecteam to boost employee morale in the workplace:
- Recognize Employees: shout it from the rooftops! Be sure to send updates to the company to celebrate new hires, personal milestones like anniversaries, create an employee spotlight and allow employees to nominate their peers for awards. Then allow employees to comment and like the updates to drive additional engagement.
- Share Success: send updates on business milestones like bringing new customers, a new location, smashing the goal or KPI set, etc. Also celebrate success stories from customers with letters, pictures, videos, a story and more.
- Put Employees Front & Center: make decisions based on in-organizational surveys, launch a suggestion box to gain feedback and insights and introduce an open-door policy so employees can directly approach HR or senior management.
- Wellness & Benefits: provide all necessary information under one roof that employees can access whenever they need and allow your team to register for company events right from their mobile phone.
- Non-serious Communication: use nice GIFs for interactive content, allow people to like and comment to be part of the discussion, but in a structured safe organized environment. You can even start funny polls like who’s your favorite superhero?
- A Personal Touch: from senior leadership all the way down, you can share videos from the CEO to every last employee. This is an easy way for front line employees to approach senior management in a structured and controlled environment
Connecteam is the perfect tool to establish a regular drumbeat to drive morale that’s infused in your company culture.
Be as transparent as possible. Don’t attempt to hide problems or avoid conversations when morale is low, or you’ll do more damage. Your employees will respect honesty while you work together to fix any issues. Inform them about company updates, new protocols, customer feedback, and more.
Give Employee Recognition
Focus on the good! When employees feel truly appreciated, they have more self-worth and become more productive employees.
How Full Is Your Bucket proves that employees who receive regular, positive recognition will experience:
- Higher productivity
- Better engagement levels
- More loyalty to the company
- Higher morale
- Better customer satisfaction.
Employee recognition is a no-brainer when it comes to creative and easy ways to boost employee morale. In fact, Gallup found that “Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.”
At the end of the day: employee recognition is low cost and high impact. As mentioned before, Connecteam’s employee all-in-one communication app allows you to share employee recognition with the tap of a button. For example, shine the spotlight by telling fun and engaging stories of employees and their successes, celebrate personal milestones together like meaningful anniversaries, newborns or adoption, or even birthday wishes, allow employees to nominate their peers for awards, and even welcome new team members.
Get Employee Feedback
Getting employee feedback is a great way to boost employee morale. When you show employees that you’re listening, they will feel heard and are far more likely to be motivated . But it isn’t enough just to collect feedback, you need to act on it as well. Even if you don’t implement each piece of feedback, be sure to thank your employees for sending in their thoughts and suggestions .
To further support the importance of employee feedback, studies have found that
- 87% of employees report they want job development but only 1/3 receive feedback they need
- that disengaged employees cost companies in the United States $450-550 billion every year in lost productivity
- that employees who aren’t receiving feedback are 40% more likely to be disengaged
- 78% of employees said receiving recognition motivated them to do their jobs
- Motivation pays off because companies with more skilled workers experience two times revenue growth and profit margins.
All of the above proves that implementing and fostering a culture of employee feedback is not just a “nice to have” or something that happens during the annual performance review — employee feedback is a vital aspect of year-round performance management and development.
Offer Employe Growth
Boost employee moBoost employee morale by giving your team a sense of purpose so they have a goal to work towards and something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a job promotion. Instead, you can send them to a course or conference to improve their professional skills. Employees want to feel a sense of growth to be truly motivated.
Run A Calm, Healthy & Organized Company
Sure, pushing yourself and your team to the limit sounds like the right thing to do and is inspiring, but it won’t work in the long run. Your goal should be to reduce stress, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and to run a calm, healthy, and organized company.
Offer an EAP (employee assistance program) that helps employees work through problems and stress, whether it’s work or home-related. An EAP is designed to help your team work through issues that may impact their health and wellness, or even their work performance.
If managers are not the direct cause of the low morale, the responsibility to fix employee morale is. Be sure to train all your managers in emotional intelligence, communication, giving feedback and recognition, and different leadership styles.
Managers can directly impact engagement and morale, so investing time in training them is one of the most important strategies for fixing low morale.
Chron , a small business publication, found that “job satisfaction generally increases and self-esteem improves when employees better understand the workings of the company. Training can also enhance morale on the job and loyalty to the company. Workers who believe their company offers excellent training opportunities are generally less likely to leave their companies within a year of training than employees with poor training opportunities.”
Organize Team Building Activities
What’s the importance of team building games? For starters, it leads to collaborative and motivated work culture, aids in problem-solving among team members, fosters meaningful and open communication among peers, leads to creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, enhances productivity, boosts employee morale and it helps to keep creative juices flowing!
Make team building games enjoyable and educational at the same time, that’s a surefire way to lift employee morale for the time being. (This isn’t a long-term solution but it can do the job just the same). Organize a scavenger hunt or create an office trivia challenge to energize your employees.
If you have remote workers, then look into these team building games made especially for remote workers !
Provide Amazing Employee Incentives
Now, this isn’t a long-term solution, but when morale is low, dishing out some fun employee incentives can do the trick. Bring in some puppies from the local shelter, give out some scratch-offs, let employees work from home for the day – it’s amazing what these employee incentives can do.
OR, you can develop something that can help your employees evolve personally and professionally . Sign them up for a course that ties to their professional responsibilities or give them helpful books to read to develop their skills further. Studies have also found that the longer you stay at work, the more important it is to get outside of the office, even if it’s just for a few minutes because creativity can take a hit when you don’t change environments.
Encourage Genuine Breaks
Research has found that only a mere one in five people take a lunch break and that white-collar workers are actually the least likely to take a break. That means that there are far too many staff members eating lunch at their desks!
We know that creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment, to a natural environment. So staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking. It’s also detrimental to doing that rumination that’s needed for ideas to percolate and gestate and allow a person to arrive at an ‘aha’ moment. – Kimberly Elsbach , professor at the University of California who studies workplace psychology.
Encourage your employees to get away from their desks, at least for five minutes every hour. For example, grab a cup of coffee, take a walk outside for some fresh air, stretch your body, and more. When you make this a habit, you are happier and can contribute greatly to the bottom line because you’re refreshed.
Studies have also found that the longer you stay at work, the more important it is to get outside of the office, even if it’s just for a few minutes because creativity can take a hit when you don’t change environments.
Promote Workplace Diversity
By promoting workplace diversity your employees will feel and understand that thinking outside the box or being different is an asset to the company. A Forbes article notes that “teams and companies that make diversity a priority offer a variety of ideas, perspectives and learning opportunities. Diverse employees (such as a multigenerational workforce , or working with Generation Z ) can bring together their different talents, experiences and various skill sets to come up with creative and inventive solutions, whereas another group made up of people with similar backgrounds and skill sets may decide to solve a dilemma in the same way they always have”.
The bottom line is that workplace diversity brings your employees together; getting more work done as a team and boosting the company morale!
Let Go Of Workplace Bullies
No one likes getting bullied, and this is especially true when it comes to the office or any workplace. A Forbes article mentions that “workplace bullying not only impacts one’s happiness but injures their health, productivity and self-confidence leaving victims feeling stuck and powerless”.
Workplace bullying definitely can and will impact your company’s morale. It’s important to make sure that all your employees understand that there is a zero tolerance policy for workplace bullying and to actually stand by these words to make sure no one feels they’re being treated unfairly in the workplace.
Buy Some Green Office Plants
Sounds silly, right? WRONG! Research from Live Science has shown that “people who toiled in offices with plants and window views reported they felt better about their job and the work they performed compared to those in windowless offices without shrubbery around”.
There is a direct correlation between employee morale and greenery in the workplace. Not only do they clean the air from harmful pollutants, but research shows that “plants are one of the least expensive, most useful ways to improve your employees’ experience at the workplace. Unlike traditional air filters, they continue to work better over time as they grow, and are more cost effective in the long run”. Run down to your local nursery and buy some plants that don’t require lots of water or sun!
Make A Designated Decompression Room For Breaks
Create a separate space for employees to go to and relax for a few minutes every day or when they need to take a break. Jeff Pochepan , president of StrongProject, notes that these decompression or recharge rooms “are more than a simple café or chair grouping in a convenient place for conversation between colleagues or that morning java that gets the juices flowing. They’re rooms where employees can take a few minutes of downtime to zone out, relax, stretch, nap, or even meditate”.
Make a comfortable, separate space where employees can take a minute to relax and recharge but also talk, discuss and exchange ideas, all while simultaneously boosting company morale!
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to wreak havoc around the world, remote working is becoming the default. However, the methods you’re using to motivate your in-house team won’t exactly work for your remote team. Most remote workers feel disconnected as remote work can be isolating at times. More often than not, they feel out of the loop, voiceless, and even lonely.
As a manager, you need to find ways to help your remote team members feel motivated and appreciated . Here are just a few examples of how you can make this possible:
- Create clear communication channels
- Be transparent
- Encourage feedback
- Include remote workers in announcements and updates
- Use a communication app
- Make scheduling easier to connect remote and in-office workers
- Be clear on expectations
- Implement remote team building games and activities
- Focus on performance
- Trust that they’ll get the work done, don’t micromanage
- Create a positive company culture
- Give recognition and even develop remote team leaders
Now that you can recognize the positive effects of company morale and you need to include your remote workers, you need to be able to recognize when your efforts are failing. Reread our section on “what causes low employee morale in the workplace” to ensure you’re not making the same mistakes with your remote workers.
The Bottom Line On Employee Morale
The second you recognize that your employees have low morale, from high turnover to less collaboration and little conversation, it’s time to take a stand.
The best thing you can do for your company and your team is to embrace changes that positively benefit all before low morale hits. Offer any of the 15 tips we have outlined above and office morale is sure to increase.
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How to lead through periods of low morale.
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Over the past two years, employees across the U.S. and around the world have been dealing with remote working and low morale.
71% of leaders say that engaged, happy employees are pivotal to their company's success, and according to a Gallup survey, companies with highly engaged workforces are as much as 21% more profitable . However, as many as 33% of those polled in a 2018 Korn Ferry Survey reported leaving their jobs as a result of boredom. While 33% isn't necessarily the majority, it's a considerable number.
While the data can be daunting to review, with the right approach, a strong and authentic leader can lead their team through these periods of low morale and help them get their motivation back.
Approach every interaction with transparency
An authentic leader is one who leads with honesty. Those who aren't afraid to be vulnerable and admit when they're wrong are the ones who earn trust from their peers and their employees.
When it comes to company success, it's important to remain transparent, keeping in mind that people can generally sense when something isn't going well. Sugarcoating internal struggles or approaching interactions with team members while adopting an "act as-if" attitude is inauthentic, at best, and is more likely to produce an even lower level of morale.
Adopt a "team-first" attitude in meetings
While numbers are an important part of any business meeting, they shouldn't be the first focus when gathering as a team. That's especially true when morale is low and the team needs some extra motivation.
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Instead, start meetings out by focusing on attendees. Open up the floor and give them the opportunity to share successes or ask for input from peers before getting into data. This goes beyond simply boosting team morale and can go a long way in creating a collaborative attitude and an overall sense of shared ownership throughout the team.
Give employees ample opportunities for open discussion
Whether a discussion with an employee is disciplinary in nature or not, an authentic, motivating leader takes the time to give their employee a chance to speak their mind. Instead of lecturing, the best approach is often to ask open-ended questions to gauge how the employee is feeling, why they feel that way and what improvements can be made to boost their morale and increase overall team productivity.
According to a study published by MITSloan , employees who are regularly encouraged to speak out about workplace issues and given a safe space to air grievances are happier and more successful at work.
Leading through periods of low morale requires openness and authenticity
Engaged employees are happy employees and the best way to engage teams, especially in times of low morale, is by maintaining open, honest lines of communication that goes both ways.
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Effective Ways To Deal With Low Employee Morale
In today’s hectic, competitive and growing working culture “employees” are becoming an important asset for every company. The key to success in any business relies upon the satisfaction of employees. Managers need to show people they are valued and look for a quick fix on potential issues. One way to build or break a company’s success is to develop an employee morale to reinforce the employee’s worth in the company. Leaders need to keep a close eye on the reasons that cause low morale in the workplace and approach to creative ideas to strengthen it.
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Reasons for low morale in the workplace
There are certain rules in companies like, “If you do not show up for work on Saturday, do not bother to come to work on Monday.” or “You are not allowed to take leaves on Friday and Monday, it will not be paid in case you take it.”
Sadly, there are many such rules in a workplace that is the cause of low morale. Employees are worried about their jobs and this is killing company’s productivity. Certainly, employee morale is the most difficult thing to manage in the workplace and definitely should not be overlooked.
Well, it might be a little difficult for you to have an accurate idea of what are the causes of low morale in your employees. Here are some of the popular causes of low employee morale.
Causes of low employee morale
Micromanagement is bad for employees and for a business growth. It is becoming on of the main reason for employee’s low morale. Micro-managers are actually not being the real boss, they are just telling employees what to do. This makes employee hate coming to work every day. This style of management leads to a loss of control, loss in trust and causes employee burnout.
Poor employee treatment
Often poor employee treatment is the cause of negative work environment. Proper employee treatment usually means always going against the words of an employee, not accepting their petitions, always pointing out every step an employee takes and constantly running meetings to approach their issues. This treatment usually frustrates an employee and spoils the working culture.
Extra working hours
This is another common root cause of low employee morale. Too often in a workplace employees are asked to stay for long hours and this is becoming a trend now. Employees have to certainly sit for extra working time just to leave a good impression or to provide repetitive revisions of their tasks.
Not appreciating and recognizing hard work
Appreciation is a fundamental human need as it confirms that the work is valued. Employee recognition is an obvious thing to do and is not a rocket science. People obviously want to be respected and valued for their contribution and not appreciating an employee’s hard work usually causes low employee morale.
Your employees will probably get bored of their damn mind many times which will result in some pretty profoundly negative effects on their health and work. Being bored increases the risk of making mistakes at work and is one of the leading cause of low employee morale.
If you can relate these reasons with the employees in your company, look at these 6 effective ways to deal with low employee morale.
How to deal with low employee morale
Keep employees feeling their work is more than just a job
It should be in a manager’s best interest to keep their employees feel that their work is more than just a job. They should feel valued and feel that their work has a higher purpose. Everyone wants to be a major of the team and this also increases employee morale to put more efforts to work. It is quite not possible to make everyone happy at the same time but the key to increasing employee morale is to make them feel acknowledged.
Additional days off
Most of the employees prevent taking a day off because they are not getting paid for it but they remain constantly disturbed with the thought of taking a day off. This in itself lowers employee morale. So, you need to know that time in itself is a form of reward. It is not always necessary to offer a costly form of reward. If you are into budget constraints, giving an additional day off is an excellent option boost up employee morale. Give employees a chance to say they are taking a mental health day off. They know it well when they need it.
Comfortable workplace stations
Comfortable workplace stations is a part of workplace wellness and employee satisfaction. Promoting good posture, private workplace stations free of distractions, clean and tidy desks and comfort by allowing employees to move regularly is a way to enhance employee performance. If the employee is not happy sitting at its work station undoubtedly the performance will be affected. You can also offer employees free consultation to ask for their suggestions to reduce workers compensation, health care costs and increase productivity. You can follow these proven strategies for motivating employees and increasing productivity at work place. Always make sure your office chairs are comfortable and standing desks are another great option.
Employee recognition is important for reinforcing and rewarding the most important outcomes that employees create for your business. It is essential to focus on the positive work and recognize employees for it. If the employees are not recognized for their work it might be the reason for low employee morale. So, focus on recognition to reinforce the employee’s productivity and to promote their contribution in the workplace. Lack of recognition is a reason for people leaving their jobs and morale drop. Recognize your employees for all the time and energy they put into their work.
Both positive and negative feedback from employees is helpful in promoting workplace wellness. Show your employees that you are listening and when employees feel they are being heard. They are more likely to be motivated at work when they realize that their opinion counts. Collect their feedback and act on whatever feedback you receive. And also thank them for their feedback and get back to them.
Have Team Building Activities
Weekly or monthly team building activities is a good way to lift employees spirit. When morale is low, organize a team building activity like a team lunch or office games or theme days. These little things can do a lot for employees morale and is a nice quick fix to boost morale. Small team building activities will save them from boredom and build a healthy workforce where teams can get mixed up with each other easily.
Blend the usual way of doing things
Say goodbye to the usual routine of meetings and cubicle life. If you want to go a long way towards building employee morale use some new concepts of working with the concept of neighborhoods to shake things up. You can organize your employees into neighborhoods, based on the sections in your office. Then these groups should have regular get-togethers and meeting day, games like basketball tournament and more.
And the last of all, another common issue is the boredom that eats up employees productivity. Employee boredom is a big deal and there is a great need for employees to constantly and actively be aware of what they are doing. If you see your employees getting distracted easily, leaving work bang on the dot, tired and negative body language, there you have spotted boredom. So, embrace boredom by sharing their workload, talking to them, giving them a chance to pick projects, automate the boring tasks and give them a break. You can easily stave off the bad effects of boredom by these little changes.
Obviously, to a certain extent employees also need to be self-motivated to boost themselves but obviously, the workplace culture plays a big role in boosting the employee morale. So, follow these tips and make your employees feel a part of the in-crowd. Get started today to build employee morale that fosters positivity.
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Sandeep Kashyap is the Founder of ProofHub — a leading project management and collaboration software. A passionate leader, Sandeep is always on the lookout for innovative ideas about filling the communication gap between groups, teams and companies. He is also a featured writer on LinkedIn and a contributing author at YourStory . You can connect with him on Twitter , Facebook , and LinkedIn .
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What causes negative employee morale.
Updated: May 3, 2019
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- Inconsistency in employee treatment
- Lack of discipline for problem employees
- Lack of effective communication
- Not providing good tools or clear processes to do the job well
- Not being clear about or constantly changing expectations or priorities
- Having unrealistic expectations or unreasonable workloads
- High-stress environments
- Lack of advancement opportunities
- Not enough employee development or training
- Not responding promptly when employees come to management with concerns, problems, questions, or other issues
- Not giving employees enough information to be effective
- Not investigating when employees have complaints
- Failing to recognize employees who are doing their job well
- Failing to give feedback—both positive and negative
- Providing inadequate performance raises or cost-of-living increases or not providing appropriate incentives
- Not empowering employees to handle regular workday problems
- Not giving employees challenging enough work
- Showing lack of trust in employees
- Too much employee monitoring
- Leadership that cannot be trusted to tell the whole story or follow up on items brought to their attention
- Not addressing negativity among employees
- Treating employees as though they’re lucky to have the job instead of treating them as a valuable part of the team
- Being disrespectful or not addressing disrespectful situations
- Failing to address bullying, harassment, discrimination, or violence
What Can HR Do?
- Provide manager’s with training on recognizing and combating low morale.
- Provide training to improve problem behaviors from the list above.
- Consider providing both employees and managers with training on emotional intelligence.
- Discipline or terminate problem employees.
- Always investigate employee complaints.
- Pay attention to managerial problems; don’t allow bad bosses to stay in their roles.
- Provide resources to help managers do their jobs well.
- Implement effective antiharassment, antibullying, antidiscrimination, and antiviolence policies.
- Conduct surveys to determine employee engagement levels and get feedback.
- Encourage organizational leadership to communicate well and be transparent in how the organization makes decisions.
- Work with others in the organization to implement programs for employee feedback and recognition.
- Work with others in the organization to implement clear career paths and employee development programs.
- Be strategic in hiring decisions; hire extra help when needed.
- Work with the rest of the team to ensure proper employee training.
- Train managers to proactively look for signs of stress and burnout and take steps to reduce them.
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Examples of moral issues include ideas regarding sexual preferences and practices and religious practices. Morality relates to personal and societal norms related to right and wrong.
Examples of morals, both good and bad, are: telling the truth despite consequences, helping people in need even if it’s inconvenient or costly, intentionally misleading someone who trusts you and having an affair with someone who is married...
An ethical issue brings systems of morality and principles into conflict. Unlike most conflicts that can be disputed with facts and objective truths, ethical issues are more subjective and open to opinions and interpretation.
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